In the presence of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss, soils have become one of the most vulnerable resources in the world.1 Notwithstanding the enormous scientifc progress made to date, protection and monitoring of soil resources at national and global levels still face complicated challenges impeding effective on-the-ground policy design and implementation that varies widely from region to region. There is still insuffcient global support for the protection and sustainable management of the world’s soil resources.
The SWSR is a reference document on the status of global soil resources that provides regional assessments of soil change. The information is based on peer-reviewed scientific literature, complemented with expert knowledge and project outputs. It provides a description and a ranking of ten major soil threats that endanger ecosystem functions, goods and services globally and in each region separately.
This document presents a summary of the first Status of the World’s Soil Resources report, the goal of which is to make clear the essential connections between human well-being and the soil. The report provides a benchmark against which our collective progress to conserve this essential resource can be measured. The report synthesizes the work of some 200 soil scientists from 60 countries.
The first World Soil Charter (WSC) was conceived and formulated, negotiated and adopted by the FAO member countries in the 1981 FAO Conference. It was a major normative instrument agreed by member states, and that the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) was duty-bound to promote its principles. The challenges faced by the world have become more evident and severe in the intervening three decades.
Endorsed by the 155th session of the FAO Council, Rome, Italy, 5th December 2016
The Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management (VGSSM) were adopted by the 4th GSP Plenary Assembly (Rome, 23 May 2016), approved by the 25th session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (Rome, 28 September 2016) and finally endorsed by the 155th session of the FAO Council (Rome, 5 December 2016). These guidelines provide technical and policy recommendations on how sustainable soil management can be achieved.